Love them or hate them, Christmas Traditions seem to come with or without intent. People love traditions and cycles. A way to bring the comfort of familiarity to a season, holiday, or event. Christmas tends to be a time where traditions run wild! Even the most dedicated of grinches appreciate a Christmas Tradition or two! Here is a list of some family traditions that we have started, some intentionally and some very non-intentionally. A smattering of carry over Christmas Traditions from my husbands and my childhood round out what feels like coming home after a long trip, each and every Christmas season.
His and Hers
When first starting out with marriage, kids, a new house, etc. there isn’t much of a baseline for traditions or your own unique family culture. “Becoming one” is not quite as easy as it sounds! You have your traditions and family culture from childhood, and he has his, and now it’s time to make “yours”. Seems a bit daunting. Fortunately, the traditions tend to just come along as you go. The great ones from childhood may stick around for a year or two, or maybe forever, until you have a solid line up of your own making.
Some favorites we have tried from his childhood include painting windows with Christmas themes and hanging of the French horn ornaments.
A few starlets from my own childhood treasure troves include setting up the manger scene on my birthday (2 days before Christmas), decorating the tree with family ornaments, and attending the Christmas Eve candlelight service at church.
Creating Our Own Christmas Traditions
Over the past 14 years of marriage, and 4 kids later, we have a pretty decent sized list of yearly traditions. I am learning to choose very carefully what new traditions I add to my plate each year! The kids get more attached to them than I was expecting. A tradition I may be relieved to let go of, they may insist is their favorite of all! Here is our list of Christmas traditions as of Christmas 2021;
- Baking – Of course it tis the season for baking. The kids and I love to bake a huge batch of sugar cookies and then have friends over for cookie decorating. Some years this has looked like a cookie party, sometimes just a few friends, and other years a more general school Christmas party with cookie decorating as a side note. Either way, we love us some Christmas cookies. We also love cinnamon rolls for our Christmas morning brunch!
- Wrapping up Christmas books – This is one of my kid’s favorite traditions. I have them pick their favorite 24 Christmas books and we wrap them in last year’s wrapping paper and put them under our special advent tree. The kids take turns opening one book a day from December 1st through Christmas Eve. Sometimes I will sneak a new book in, but usually they are all books we already own. They love them more each year and look forward to reading them for the month of December, before they are all packed back away until next year.
- Individual Wrapping Paper – I admit that I got the idea for this one off of Pinterest. It’s so good! You’re going to love it too. Confession: I actually really do not like wrapping presents! Actually, I don’t mind the wrapping as much as the gift tagging, trimming, and trapping’s that go on the gift. Instead, I choose a new wrapping paper for each child. I can’t believe I’m up to FOUR different wrapping papers (oy vey!) but that is another story entirely. Anywho, I pick out their paper each year and they don’t see it until Christmas morning when all the gifts are under the tree. The kicker? I also do not label or decorate any of the gifts! They have to find the wrapped gift inside of their stocking to find out which wrapping paper is theirs, and therefore, which gifts are theirs. It’s really great fun!
- Cutting Down Our Christmas Tree – One of the most fun and funniest tradition we have! Oh, the stories we have from our tromps through woods and snow to find the ever-elusive perfect tree. I’m not sure we have yet had a year where someone wasn’t crying at some point during the expedition, including me and/or my hubs. But we are always excited by the next year to get out there and do it again, so that says something, right?
- Purchasing a Personal Ornament – This started because I had nothing to put on our tree our first year of marriage! When my first born came along, I thought how great it would be to send her off, as an adult, with a whole slew of personal and beautiful ornaments. I love that each goes with their own unique story. Now the kids choose their own ornament each year and they truly love this tradition!
- The Advent Calendar and PJ’s – We do a “first gifts of Christmas” opening on December 1st for our edible advent calendar and Christmas Jammies. As a kid, we did Christmas jammies on Christmas Eve, which was lovely. We continued this tradition the first few years with our own kids. However, I really love seeing my kids in their Christmas jammies all through the Christmas season. So, a few years in, we decided to include Christmas jammies in our December 1st gift opening.
- Christmas Family Pie Night – Instead of trying to somehow coordinate our ever-growing family for a Christmas dinner, we have opted to do a family pie night the weekend before Christmas. This was our 3rd (or was it our 4th?) year doing Christmas this way. I have to say, it has become such a fun Christmas tradition! Each family brings 2 pies and we have at least 2 different types of soup or stew. We have a delicious light dinner before pie sampling. This gets me out of having to make pies for Christmas day, winning! And also frees up other fun treats as Christmas Day options, such as cinnamon rolls, cookies, etc.
- Christmas Morning Breakfast/Brunch – We are a bunch of homebody introverts and by the time Christmas day rolls around, we are exhausted from all the wonderful celebrating. Christmas morning is protected, and we keep it pretty much to ourselves, as a family. In lieu of a big Christmas dinner, I make a huge Christmas breakfast/brunch. To this brunch, we invite grandparents over, after the mayhem of gift opening, to enjoy some yummy food and celebration. I do not cook again for the rest of the day. Merry Christmas to ME! We usually have something that I prepared earlier in the week (homemade pizza’s, meat and cheese platters, etc.) that is easy to pull out and snack on in the evening.
Christmas can be so stressful with all of the expectations piled onto us. The parties, the events, the sugar, the presents, the non-stop go! Maybe it’s just too much. There is so much good in this season, and what a blessing! However, there is peace in choosing a few things to savor and enjoy, then say no to the rest.
What are some of your favorite and cherished Christmas traditions? I think it is so wonderful how unique and individual Christmas traditions and celebrations are from family to family. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year!